Perth lockdown: Eerie scenes at empty Optus Stadium for Fremantle Dockers clash with North Melbourne

Headshot of Bonnie Raynor
Bonnie RaynorThe West Australian
Email Bonnie Raynor
VideoWWII veteran Arthur Leggett recites the ode ahead of Fremantle's Len Hall clash.

While Richmond and Melbourne do battle in front of up to 85,000 permitted fans, Fremantle’s home clash against North Melbourne was eerily quiet with fans kept out due to Perth’s three-day lockdown.

The Dockers were set to host their biggest home crowd of the season for their annual Len Hall Tribute clash, but the lockdown forced members and fans to stay home.

Fremantle CEO Simon Garlick estimated the crowdless clash would cost the club north of $1million.

MORE AFL:

World War Two veteran Arthur Leggett recited the ode of remembrance via social media, in stark contrast to the 50,000-strong crowd he was expecting to front.

“I would have been delighted to say the ode before you all on this occasion, but unfortunately, that cannot be,” the 102-year-old war veteran said via a video released on Fremantle’s Twitter page.

WATCH THE VIDEO IN THE PLAYER ABOVE

“So I’m going to recite the ode for you now.

“They shall grow now old as we, who are left, grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. With the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them. Lest We Forget.”

The Dockers in front of no fans.
Camera IconThe Dockers in front of no fans. Credit: Paul Kane/via AFL Photos

Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir and first-year Kangaroos coach David Noble were pictured wearing face masks in the coaches box, even when speaking on the phone to players.

Players were masked up throughout the warm-up to comply with the mandatory mask measures that came into place at 6pm last night.

Connor Menadue masked in the warm-up.
Camera IconConnor Menadue masked in the warm-up. Credit: Will Russell/AFL Photos

The snap lockdown has cast doubt over future AFL fixtures, with next round’s western derby coming at the perfect time amid border closures to WA.

The empty stadium.
Camera IconThe empty stadium. Credit: Daniel Carson/AFL Photos

West Coast will fly home tonight on a charter flight after their emphatic loss to Geelong at GMHBA Stadium earlier today.

Fans on social media were quick to throw their support around Leggett for his ode and service, suggesting he deserved to be honoured at a later date.

“This gentleman is such an inspiration that I think he should do a lap of honour around Optus Stadium at the first Freo home game in front of a crowd so that the Purple Army can honour and salute him,” one user said.

“I hope Arthur is booked in to recite The Ode at the 2022 Len Hall match,” another added.

“Arthur. You’re a true inspiration. Reciting the Ode in front of a full house at Optus Stadium is the least we could do. But thousands of Australians will spend tomorrow reflecting & acknowledging the sacrifice you & your fellow servicemen & women made for out (sic) country,” another said.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails